People in Japan love fried chicken. It’s so popular it’s become one of the staple ingredients in Japanese bento lunches, where it’s served in small, boneless pieces known as kara-age, and it’s in such high demand that you’ll find queues outside specialist kara-age joints around the country.
World-famous fast-food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken has finally picked up on the popularity of the chicken piece with a new line-up of Japanese-style hole-in-the-wall outlets dedicated to serving up kara-age in a variety of KFC flavours. And that’s not all. They’ll even serve it up in a bento lunchbox too.
Known as Niwatorikaratei 「鶏から亭」, there are only four of these specialty outlets in Japan – three in Tokyo and one in Yokohama. We visited the store in Togoshi Ginza, a place that gets its name, incidentally, from the fact that it was built with bricks left over from the reconstruction of Ginza after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923.
Offering take-out only, the small servings of chicken come in four varieties and are sold by weight. At 278 yen (US$2.73) per 100 grams, you can buy one piece of chicken for about 90-100 yen ($0.88 -$0.98).
The four varieties available are Karauma (Delicious Spicy), Shouyu (Soy Sauce) Hiden Supaisu (KFC Secret Spice) and Koshou Arare (Pepper and Roasted Rice).
If you’re after something more substantial, then you can try the Japanese style bento lunch for 515 yen ($5.05), with your choice of three chicken pieces.
We decided to buy the bento box and as the store was promoting their new seasonal product, the crunchy pepper and roasted rice chicken, we knew we had to give this a try.
Offering a new culinary experience, the KFC bento box comes complete with a set of chopsticks.
Just like traditional, store-bought bento boxes, the lunch box comes wrapped in paper bearing the company name and logo.
The lunch box is two-tiered, with the main ingredients on top and a tray of rice underneath.
Alongside the chicken pieces we have a scoop of Japanese-style potato salad and a square of Japanese omelette. These were remarkably tasty and a great accompaniment between bites of chicken.
From left to right we have the Koshou Arare (Pepper and Roasted Rice), the Shouyu (Soy Sauce) and the Karauma (Delicious Spicy). While the Soy Sauce chicken was delightfully salty and the Delicious Spicy could’ve done with a little more kick, our favourite was the Pepper and Roasted Rice, which had a fantastic crunchy texture, thanks to the crispy, puffed rice coating.
While the chicken pieces had a distinct KFC flavour, the Japanese influence and packaging made this a unique bento-eating experience! If you’re in town and you come across the Colonel on one of these Japanese-style banners, be sure to pop in and give it a try!
KFC Niwatori Karatei
1-6-17 Hiratsuka, Togoshi Ginza
Store Hours: 10:00-22:00